Saturday, June 08, 2019

Loss of Control on Ground: Piper J3C-65, N42218, accident occurred August 13, 2018 at Polly Ranch Airport (7XS0), Friendswood, Texas

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Friendswood, TX
Accident Number: CEN18TA330
Date & Time: 08/13/2018, 1100 CDT
Registration: N42218
Aircraft: Piper J3C
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 13, 2018, about 1100 central daylight time, a Piper J3C-65 airplane, N42218, experienced a runway excursion during landing at Polly Ranch Airport (7XS0), Friendswood, Texas. The commercial pilot was not injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The local flight departed at 1024.

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector spoke to the pilot who described the runway excursion. The pilot stated that the airplane touched down about 35 to 40 mph and as soon as the tail touched the runway the airplane veered to the right. The airplane continued off the runway into a tree.

The pilot reported that he departed 7XS0 and completed several uneventful touch-and-go landings at two nearby airports. He returned to 7XS0 and landed on runway 11 with a right crosswind at 9 knots. As the airplane slowed on the runway it weathervaned into the wind and he was unable to steer with the tailwheel. The airplane exited the right side of the runway and collided with a tree.

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the Maule tailwheel locking mechanism pins were worn down and degraded. The locking mechanism could not withstand even a small amount of side pressure. As pressure was applied to the tailwheel, the locking mechanism would unlock and the tailwheel would swivel out of alignment (figure 1).

Figure 1 – Unlocked Tailwheel 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/01/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/14/2017
Flight Time:   3433 hours (Total, all aircraft), 365 hours (Total, this make and model), 3372 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 52 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 22 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0.6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N42218
Model/Series: J3C 65
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1945
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 14464
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/19/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1220 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1776 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Motors
ELT:  Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: A75-8F
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 75 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLVJ, 44 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1053 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 284°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility: 9 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 150°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.08 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Friendswood, TX (7XS0)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Friendswood, TX (7XS0)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1024 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class E; Class G

Airport Information

Airport: POLLY RANCH (7XS0)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 24 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 11
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2700 ft / 22 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  29.504722, -95.175278 (est)

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